Activities conducted as part of NBDC innovation platform work in Fogera (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Activities conducted as part of NBDC innovation platform work in Fogera (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

This paper draws lessons from two years of work with ‘innovation platforms’ that were established by the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) program in an attempt to strengthen landscape-level rainwater management in Ethiopia. The NDBC’s work included the use of an innovation fund to support pilot interventions.

This paper particularly reviews questions of political economy and equity in platform activities and examines decision-making processes, the roles and level of influence of different platform members, the nature of platform-community relations and the extent to which different groups are benefiting.

The information presented in this working paper was gathered from a mixture of sources: interviews conducted with platform members; observation of meetings and activities by NBDC staff; official minutes of platform meetings and other associated events (e.g. training sessions) and informal discussions between NBDC staff and platform members.

This paper is the latest of a ‘research for development (R4D)’ series of working papers developed by the Challenge Program for Water and Food (CPWF).

Read the working paper ‘Innovation Platforms to Enhance Participation in Rainwater Management: Lessons from The Nile Basin Development Challenge with a Particular Focus on Political Economy and Equity Issues‘.

Discover the rest of the CPWF’s R4D working paper series.


This paper (which relates to the fifth paper from the Challenge Program for Water and Food ‘Research for Development’ series) is the first in a series of three interrelated papers and focuses on planning and implementation modalities of Rainwater Management (RWM) Strategies. It is part of the NBDC project ‘On integrated RWM strategies—technologies, institutions and policies’.The project is underpinned by the recognition that integrated RWM needs to combine technologies, policies and institutions and be developed through multi-stakeholder engagement to foster innovation.

Three woredas were selected for the research—Jeldu and Diga in Oromia Region and Fogera in Amhara Region. The research on planning and implementation of RWM strategies is guided by the hypothesis that there is a gap between available policy and guidelines and specific planning and implementation procedures.

Research findings conclude that RWM planning and implementation is still rather top–down and technology-oriented instead of people-centred. Local processes are not in place to take account of different livelihood strategies and constraints, cultural, social or institutional dynamics as well as power relations and gender issues.

The research concludes with six recommendations, largely aimed at Ethiopian policymakers and implementing agencies, suggesting an alternative approach to RWM planning and implementation processes which would help improve the impact, sustainability and local ownership of interventions.

The paper outlines RWM strategies which are developed with true participation of farmers and other stakeholders; are based on evidence of what works and why; take into account specific socioeconomic and ecological niches; work across relevant sectors; and support local opportunities for innovation.

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Read the paper

See the full proceedings of the NBDC Science meeting

Read the the fifth paper from the Challenge Program for Water and Food ‘Research for Development’ series

This paper was first presented at the Nile Basin Development Challenge Science meeting. The NBDC Science meeting was held on 9 and 10 July 2013 at the ILRI-Ethiopia campus, with the objectives to exchange experiences and research results across NBDC scientists involved in the NBDC projects and to discuss challenges and possible solutions.